News and Blog

Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Telehealth is booming

I wrote a post several months ago that telehealth is where online banking from your cellphone was 10 years ago. People did not understand how it could improve their lives saving time and money. It seems COVID-19 has opened many peoples eyes to the convenience and simplicity of talking to a doctor from your home or office. With the high cost of seeing a doctor along with the amount of time it takes, telehealth can allow providers to see many more patients at a lower cost as well. 

There are many convenient care clinics across Tennessee that can diagnose the same basic healthcare issues. Many of these facilities are staffed with nurse practitioners rather than physicians. When you have a telehealth visit you are talking with a licenced doctor who can give you guidance, a treatment plan and call in a prescription if that is deemed necessary. 

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee "BCBST" is reporting that telehealth visits have grown by nearly 2000% in the past year. Last year from March 16 - April 14 there were 3,900 telehealth visits, this year more than 71,000. We are strongly encouraging our group health insurance administrators to share the word with their staffs about the convenience this service can give them during this challenging time. 

Here is the Tennessean article referencing this information. 

Posted on 04/29/2020 8:40 AM by David Moore
Monday, 6 April 2020
Furlough vs. Layoff - Which should you choose?

Employers across Tennessee are making decisions they never would have dreamed of only a few weeks ago as the Corona Virus moves throughout the world. Most want to do the right thing for their employees because they know this is temporary and will want to continue their relationships as soon as things get back to normal. Here is a really good article on different ways TN employers can release their employees from work. 

This is go into great detail of what your options are and those of  your employees for: 

  • Remote Work
  • Furlough
  • Temporary Layoff
  • Perminant Layoff

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has caused a shift in the way our society operates, forcing businesses to adapt to mandatory closures, less foot-traffic, social distancing, and even quarantines. In these uncertain times, many businesses find themselves unable to keep their employees at work. You may be struggling to understand your options for your business and your workforce. The purpose of this article is to provide you with information about many of your options in these challenging times, to assist you in making informed and intelligent business decisions.

You may hear terms like “furlough,” “layoff,” “separation,” or “termination” used interchangeably to describe your options. These terms may refer to the same thing in a non-union setting, but in a union setting, your labor agreement may define them differently. We want to define these and other terms for the purposes of this article. “Remote work” means that the employees will continue to work from a location other than your office or facility. “Furlough” means that the employee is still expected to work, but with a reduction in hours or days of work. A “temporary layoff” means a temporary, finite or undefined period (depending on the business circumstances) where the employee will be off-duty without pay. With a “temporary layoff,” the employer has the intention of bringing the employee back to work when business circumstances warrant doing so, although depending on how things are structured, that may not be guaranteed. A “permanent layoff” means that the employee is terminated without cause, and there is no intention at the time of bringing the employee back to work.

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Posted on 04/06/2020 8:49 AM by David Moore
Monday, 6 April 2020
BCBST to pay all Corona Virus related bills

Apr 2, 2020

Members will not be responsible for any out-of-pocket costs through May 31, 2020

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee will waive all member cost-sharing for COVID-19 treatments, including hospitalizations, through May 31, 2020.

“As part of our mission, our first priority is the health of our members and the communities we serve,” said JD Hickey, M.D., president and CEO. “And since the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything our members have faced in recent memory, we want to make sure we remove any barriers to receiving the care they need.”

If a BlueCross member is diagnosed as having COVID-19, they will not have to pay any out-of-pocket costs for testing and treatment administered through in-network providers, including at a doctor’s office, urgent care facility and emergency room, as well as related inpatient hospital stays, through May 31, 2020.

Posted on 04/06/2020 8:40 AM by David Moore
Monday, 6 April 2020
FFCRA : Updated guidance April 4, 2020

Federal Law Alert

FFCRA: New Rule and Guidance from DOL and IRS

New FFCRA Guidance in Temporary Rule and FAQs

The Department of Labor (DOL) has released rules related to administration of leaves under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and answered more common questions on their Questions and Answers page. Below are some key highlights to keep in mind when administering these leaves. We also recommend reading our summary of the FFCRA in Comply if you have not already done so.

Documentation: Employers may not require more documentation from employees than is described below. For instance, employers may not request a doctor’s note or an official notice from a closed school or daycare.

Childcare Provider: The definition of childcare provider includes anyone who generally cares for the children in question. This includes individuals paid to provide childcare, like nannies, au pairs, and babysitters, as well as individuals who provide childcare at no cost and without a license on a regular basis, for example, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or a neighbor.

Reasons for Self-Quarantine: Employees are only eligible for emergency paid sick leave (EPSL) if a health care provider directs or advises them to self-quarantine because the health care provider believes the employee may have COVID-19 or is particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

EPSL due to Stay-at-Home Orders: In some narrow circumstances, an employee who is subject to a stay-at-home order may be able to receive EPSL. They will only be eligible if the business is open and has work for them to do, but a stay-at-home order that applies specifically to them as an individual prevents them from working. For instance, if the retail store where an employee works as a cashier is still open, but the employee is over 65 and subject to an executive order from their governor that all people over 65 should stay home, they would be eligible for EPSL.

Exempt Healthcare Workers: The exemption for healthcare workers is optional and the DOL encourages employers to be judicious in denying leave (if someone is sick with something that looks like COVID-19, you are encouraged to provide them leave anyway, even if they could be exempted). Healthcare facilities should still post the Employee Rights Poster required by the FFCRA.

Limited Small Employer Exemption: Although this is not new information, we want to reiterate that small employers are only potentially exempt from the childcare leaves provided by EPSL and emergency Family and Medical Leave Act (EFMLA) leave. For instance, one reason for exemption is that providing leave would cause the employer to cease functioning at a minimal capacity. If a single employee asks for intermittent childcare leave one day per week, but can telework the other four days, that is very unlikely to be a financial burden that causes the employer to cease operations. It would therefore be inappropriate (or illegal) for an employer to announce that they will not be considering or granting any childcare leaves.

IRS Guidance on Required Documentation for Leave Tax Credits

Employers have been anxious to find out what kind of documentation they will need to claim a payroll tax credit. The documentation that can be requested of employees is listed below. The IRS has a very helpful overview and FAQ that covers other common questions about the tax credits in detail.

Employers can substantiate eligibility for the sick leave or family leave credits by receiving a written request from the employee that includes the following:

Their name;

The date or dates for which leave is requested;

A statement of the COVID-19 related reason they are requesting leave and written support for such reason; and

A statement that they are unable to work, including by means of telework, for such reason.

For leave based on a quarantine order or self-quarantine advice, the request should include the name of the governmental entity ordering quarantine or the name of the health care professional advising self-quarantine. If the person subject to quarantine or advised to self-quarantine is not the employee, that person’s name and relation to the employee should be included.

For a leave request based on a school closing or child care provider unavailability, the statement should include the name and age of the child (or children) to be cared for, the name of the school or place of care that has closed, and a representation that no other person will be providing care for the child during the leave. If a child who needs care is 15 or older, the employee must affirm that there are special circumstances (but need not explain them) — the IRS otherwise assumes kids 15 and older can take care of themselves for the length of a workday.

According to the DOL, this is the extent of the documentation you may require.

We have an FFCRA Leave Request Form available in Comply that asks employees for in the information necessary based on their reason for leave.


This information is made available by ThinkHR

April 2, 2020

Posted on 04/06/2020 8:37 AM by David Moore